Ofsted has carried out its fourth special measures monitoring inspection at the Grange School & Sports College in Warmley and is pleased with progress being made – although inspectors said the summer’s GCSE exam results were “disappointing”.
The Grange was put into special measures last year. A number of options for its future were discussed but in light of the £8m of urgent repairs and maintenance needed and the over-capacity in secondary school provision locally, councillors decided to consult on closing the school.
The proposal is that the school closes in August 2017, with no further admissions from next September. Consultation runs until 14th November and includes a public meeting at the school at 7pm next Thursday night (6th November). A final decision is expected in March.
A significant number of staff have already left the school and only nine students joined in Year 7. No students have joined Year 12 – the first year of the sixth form.
The Cabot Learning Federation has been supporting the troubled school. In a letter to parents, interim principal Martina Veale said Ofsted inspectors had visited on 7th and 8th October.
“I am delighted to say that the inspectors were very pleased with the progress we have made since the last monitoring visit on 29th and 30th January 2014,” she wrote.
“Our students, as in previous monitoring visits, did themselves proud. Inspectors described them as typically polite and courteous.”
However, Ofsted said the 2014 GCSE examination results were “disappointing in many areas”, including English and maths: “Teachers’ predictions of students’ likely GCSE outcomes were inaccurate. As a result, the interim principal has implemented practice examinations in English and mathematics for all Year 11 students. These examinations are being marked by teachers within the Cabot Learning Federation to ensure that the school has a very clear understanding of each student’s current GCSE performance in English and mathematics and the areas students need to develop further.”
The inspectors found students are now making much better progress due to the improved quality of teaching although more able students are not always sufficiently challenged and the less able do not always receive enough support when writing.
The report says leaders effectively monitor the quality of teaching and set challenging targets for teachers. Governors are also said to have a much clearer understanding of the school’s strengths and areas in need of further development, and have received helpful training from the local authority.
A new £3m Studio School is due to open on the Grange campus next September. It will specialise in developing skills aimed at hi-tech, advanced engineering and creative and digital industries.